Big basketball year for Elena Delle Donne includes stop at Delaware – The News Journal


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On Saturday night Elena Delle Donne returned once again to the site of her four Ursuline state championships and where she sparked Delaware to two Colonial Athletic Association titles and the 2013 NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.
The News Journal

Fourteen years ago, Elena Delle Donne played a basketball game at the Carpenter Center for the first time. She was an Ursuline Academy eighth-grader.

She’d attended games before there as a fan. Coming to play as a DIAA state semifinalist was exciting but a tad terrifying, too.

“Oh my goodness,” she said. “It was like bright lights, big stadium. I was just like in shock.”

It was also love at first sight. There are likely few basketball courts in the country where a top-level player has such an extensive and happy history.

On Saturday night Delle Donne, now 28 and entering her sixth WNBA season, returned once again to the site of her four Ursuline state championships and where she sparked Delaware to two Colonial Athletic Association titles and the 2013 NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16.

A crowd of 3,323 was there to welcome Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics.

“I came because I wanted to see Elena play where she played in college,” said Hollin Horn, 9, who drove up from Virginia with her mother, Jill. “I thought it would be an experience.”

It was Delle Donne’s fifth post-collegiate homecoming game at the Carpenter Center. The first three were with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. The most recent, in July 2016, was when Delle Donne and her U.S. teammates scored an 84-62 Olympic tune-up win over France in front of a sellout crowd of 4,711. They won the gold medal several weeks later in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, beating Spain.

“They’re all great,” Delle Donne said of those games after scoring 15 points in 12 minutes as the Mystics blasted the Indiana Fever 91-56.

“This one’s really special because I feel like I’m truly in the right place. It was really exciting to share these awesome fans with my awesome teammates so it was a great night, had a lot of fun and saw some great things from our team.”

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This is a big year for Delle Donne, in a much different way than 2017 was.

Last year, she helped engineer the trade to Washington so she could play basketball closer to home, wrote two recently published books and married Amanda Clifton. Their Nov. 3 nuptials were orchestrated by the Knot, a wedding service company.

“I think my life will actually get a lot more simple now that I’m in season,” Delle Donne said, “which is crazy to think … I can settle in a little bit more.”

Basketball will take center stage over the next five months, first with the WNBA season and then with the FIBA Women’s World Cup of basketball Sept. 22-30 on the Canary Islands, where it’ll be “gold or bust,” Delle Donne said.

Delle Done has had surgery on both thumbs the past two years – it was a torn ligament in her left thumb that sidelined her for several weeks late last season – but knows those are the hazards of her job, especially with the avid defense she draws.

“Championships,” Delle Donne said of what motivates her as the 2018 season approaches. “I feel I’ve accomplished a lot in my WNBA career, but I haven’t got a championship. I feel like last season we peaked at the right time and played really well and got far in the playoffs, falling to Minnesota, who won it all.

“Obviously, now we’re just trying to make that next step and moving forward, which is never easy. It’s gonna take a lot, especially this season with Emma [Meesseman] being out [the 6-4 Belgian is taking a season off after playing year-round for six years]. That hurts us. But we’ve got a great lineup. It’s the best training camp I’ve been in so far, and it seems like things are going in the right direction.”

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Washington Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne (11) takes the floor to warm up for a WNBA preseason basketball game between the Indiana Fever and the Washington Mystics on Saturday, May. 12, 2018, at the Bob Carpenter Sports Convocation Center in Newark. (Photo: SAQUAN STIMPSON/SPECIAL TO THE NEWS JOURNAL)

Delle Donne was league rookie of the year with Chicago in 2013 and MVP in 2015. With Washington, the 6-foot-5 guard/forward averaged 19.7 points and 6.8 rebounds last season with career-best 49.4 field-goal and 95.3 free-throw percentages.

Washington won two games in the WNBA’s new single-elimination playoff format but was swept by eventual champ Minnesota in the best-of-five semifinals. The Mystics’ 2018 regular season opens May 20 against Indiana.

“It’s been awesome,” she said of playing in Washington. “Basketball-wise it’s been great, the perfect move, organizationally. I love my teammates, the coach [Mike Thibault]. He’s just the man. I feel like he teaches us so much about basketball but even more about life. Not only that, I’m closer to home.”

Thibault, whose Washington team was on the losing end of one of those Sky preseason games here, is happy to have Delle Donne in his lineup.

“It’s a great experience coming up here to do this,” he said. “It’s good for our team. There’s a good atmosphere for the game, so it’s fun to do . . . When you have a player who’s that transcendent with her skill set and her personality, it’s hard not to have a fan base that wants to get out and root for her.”

Thibault was at the Carpenter Center when Delaware beat North Carolina in the 2013 NCAA Tournament in Delle Donne’s final home college game “so you saw the passion that was here in the sellout that night,” he said. ” . . . It’s fun to be a part of it.”

Contact Kevin Tresolini at ktresolini@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @kevintresolini.

ELENA DELLE DONNE:

Delle Donne gives young, aspiring athletes a role model

Delle Donne wedding: Cascading flowers, ensemble changes and moving moments

6 behind-the-scenes details and surprises from Elena Delle Donne’s Nov. 3 wedding

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Baltimore police identify 16-year-old killed on basketball court Tuesday night – Baltimore Sun


Baltimore police have identified a 16-year-old boy killed on a basketball court Tuesday night.

Jordan Deshields was shot around 8:20 p.m. next to Mary E. Rodman Elementary School in the 3600 block of W. Mulberry St. in the Allendale neighborhood, police said.

He was a student at the New Era Academy, a middle/high school in Cherry Hill, according to an assistant principal.

Deshields was the city’s 100th homicide so far this year, and the second teenager claimed by gun violence in the city in less than a week, and the seventh so far this year. By this time last year, 10 teenagers had been killed in Baltimore.

“I can’t believe when I saw a 16-year-old had been killed outside the rec center – it was this kid,” Alli Smith, his fourth-grade teacher, wrote on Twitter. Smith, who works as the director of community engement for Mayor Catherine Pugh’s office, also posted a young picture of Deshields with his head on a school desk writing.

She wrote in the tweet that she still had the picture from when she texted his father, telling him about his “great afternoon at school.”

“My heart just feels so heavy,” she wrote. She declined to comment further Friday.

Jessica Wilson, a 17-year-old senior at New Era, said earlier this week that the teen was “really positive,” even when he was being “open about all the real stuff he went through.”

Wilson recalled how the boy would tell her and their other friends, “Be safe, I love you,” every time they parted ways.

“I felt sad and wanted to cry but just didn’t,” she said. “It happens every day. Murder in Baltimore is something you have to get used to, but that’s not right.”

Police said Wednesday that a gun and drugs were found on his body.

The department on Friday also identified a man killed on Wednesday, in the 1200 block of West North Ave., as 49-year-old Arnold Patterson.

Baltimore Sun reporter Talia Richman contributed to this article.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

twitter.com/janders5



Michigan basketball a finalist for 4-star PG DJ Carton – Detroit Free Press


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Looking back on Michigan’s star-studded recruiting class of 1991 that shocked the world. Video by Ryan Ford/DFP
Wochit

Another one of the top point guards in the 2019 class has Michigan basketball on his final list. 

D.J. Carton, a 4-star point guard from Bettendorf, Iowa, put Michigan in his final six Thursday night. And there are a few familiar schools joining John Beilein and the Wolverines. 

Book: Fab Five scandal doesn’t tell full story of Ed Martin: ‘He helped everybody’

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Carton listed Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio State, Marquette and Xavier as his final six. He did not give a timetable for a decision. 

Carton ranks as the No. 33 player nationally for 2019, per the 247Sports composite. He’s the top-ranked player in Iowa and the No. 4 ranked point guard overall. Michigan was a finalist for 5-star point guard Tyrese Maxey, but ultimately lost out to Kentucky. 

Carton appears to be Michigan’s top point guard target for this class. The Wolverines will enter the 2018-19 season with Zavier Simpson as a junior, Eli Brooks as a sophomore and David DeJulius as a freshman on the point guard depth chart. 

More: Michigan basketball recap and what’s ahead for 2018-19

The Wolverines don’t have a commit for the class of 2019 yet, but Beilein has made some progress. 

Jalen Wilson, a 4-star forward and the No. 28-ranked player nationally, will be on an unofficial visit to campus this weekend. The Texas native has listed Michigan as a finalist and he’s expected to get an offer during his visit. 

Beilein officially offered Carton last month, as the Iowa native made a visit to Michigan last fall. 

More: Michigan’s odds of a 2019 NCAA tourney run good, recent history says

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Donovan Mitchell's stardom is huge for Louisville and Chris Mack – Courier Journal


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SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick on how the Warriors dominated the Pelicans and the Rockets handled the Jazz to take 3-1 series leads and move one win from the Western Conference finals.
USA TODAY Sports

In the postgame disappointment of Louisville’s second-round loss to Michigan in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, sophomore guard Donovan Mitchell said he was “focusing on coming back to school and getting ready for my teammates for next year.”

He almost did it, too.

It was a tough call at the time. Only after a pre-draft workout, when Chris Paul reportedly told Mitchell he was ready, did one of the NBA’s soon-to-be-superstars decide to turn pro, according to Bleacher Report.

“He’s going to be good for a long time,” Paul told the website, recalling the moment.

Good luck finding anyone in NBA circles to now disagree with that or Mitchell’s decision to leave Louisville basketball after two seasons.

Related: Former Louisville star Donovan Mitchell is currently having a better 2018 than the rest of us

Since that point, the player and program have gone dramatically different directions. Louisville has been mired in scandal, which forced out its Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, clouding the 2017-18 season and perhaps the program’s future.

Meanwhile, Mitchell’s spectacular rookie season ended Tuesday night with the Utah Jazz’s losing an elimination game to Paul’s Houston Rockets in the NBA’s conference semifinals. In only 79 regular-season games, Mitchell went from a first-round draft pick with modest expectations to a blossoming NBA superstar at age 21, perhaps a face of the league for years to come.

When the NBA Rookie of the Year award is announced June 25, it will go to either Mitchell or Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons.

A strong case could be made for Mitchell. He averaged 20.5 points per game, won the league’s slam-dunk contest and led the Jazz into the second round of the NBA playoffs, where he validated his credentials by scoring at least 21 points in nine of Utah’s 11 playoff games, including a 38-point performance in the clinching win over the opening series against Oklahoma City.

Do not underestimate the timing of this for Louisville’s program.

More: Is another college basketball program about to be named in the FBI’s corruption case?

New Cards basketball coach Chris Mack and his assistants face substantial recruiting hurdles as they look to get the program back on track on the face of an FBI investigation still ongoing. That means an indefinite timetable for the NCAA to act on the FBI’s findings, which means the specter of sanctions for the programs involved could stick around for years.

Mitchell, however, gives Louisville a fighting chance with something it hasn’t had in decades — an elite NBA superstar produced by the program.

Consider that Mitchell’s 20.5 points per game this past season is more than four points better than any other Louisville player’s career NBA average. Darrell Griffith is second at 16.2.

It speaks to Rick Pitino’s coaching ability and his players’ fortitude that his Cards teams enjoyed such collective success that didn’t often carry individually into the NBA.

While Terry Rozier (11.3), Montrezl Harrell (11) and Damion Lee (10.7) each averaged double-figures this past season, Lee is the only player other than Mitchell to join the NBA since 1983 and have a career average in double-figures, and Lee — who was undrafted — did that in 15 games this season.

But a program’s NBA legacy is perhaps its most important selling point to top recruits. Just ask the guys down the road in Lexington.

More: Donovan Mitchell has been a star on the court and now in a documentary series

Since the 2009-10 season, Kentucky has had 24 first-round NBA draft picks. Louisville has had three.

Of Kentucky’s 24, half of them were picked higher than No. 13, which where Mitchell — Louisville’s highest draft pick since 2009 — was selected last year, and they are immortalized in large posters across the walls of the Wildcats’ practice gymnasium.

“That’s why we’re coming to Kentucky,” said Hamidou Diallo prior to this past season, pointing to the posters of past UK players above him. “I mean, we’re coming to be great players. Hopefully, we can hang our poster up in this gym.”

Pitino, of course, was consistently able to recruit and win anyway despite the lack of NBA success. But that was Pitino, and he’s not in Louisville anymore. The banner he won in 2013, by NCAA order, is no longer in the rafters, and scandals are overshadowing the perception of a proud program.

Louisville will need something else to regain its footing as a top basketball powerhouse.

And Donovan Mitchell is suddenly providing it in the NBA.

Gentry Estes: 502-582-4205; gestes@courierjournal.com; Twitter: @Gentry_Estes. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/gentrye



Arizona Basketball: Will Jordan Brown take his talents to Tucson? – Zona Zealots


One-on-one with Chiney Ogwumike, basketball star, announcer – Houston Chronicle


Chiney Ogwumike, speaking at Cy-Fair High School, last year, has a bigger role on ESPN. Photo: Submitted Photo

Chiney Ogwumike, speaking at Cy-Fair High School, last year, has a bigger role on ESPN.

Former Cy-Fair High School and Stanford University standout Chiney Ogwumike has signed on with ESPN as a contributor to the network, ESPN Radio, podcasts and ESPN.com while continuing her career as a forward with the WNBA Connecticut Sun.

Ogwumike, who last year became a “SportsCenter Africa” co-host on Kwese Sports, which distributes sports programming in 19 African nations and has a programing partnership with ESPN, discussed her new role with ESPN with Chronicle sports media writer David Barron.


Q: Did you aspire to do sports television coming out of college?

A: I never aspired to do television. I didn’t know what my plans were going to be. I was excited to get a Stanford degree and have the opportunity to play in the WNBA. I got hampered with a couple of injuries, and during that time I had an opportunity that came from that downtime, and it has led to a regular role at ESPN. It happened naturally, which was cool.

Q: So your first broadcast experience was with ESPN?

A: My first opportunity was working during the summer hiatus period for “First Take” and “His and Hers” as a guest anchor. I was in Connecticut, rehabbing from an injury, and they asked if I had interest. That was my first real TV job, and from there it was sink or swim. Fortunately, I had fun and was prepared and was able to build something off those first few appearances.

Q: If you had gone to any other WNBA team beside the Connecticut Sun, would you have missed out on this career path?

A: The fact that I was drafted by Connecticut and ESPN is in Connecticut made it like it was destiny. I was fortunate to be a female athlete with a voice, and that turned into an opportunity on and off the court.

Q: Had you been playing overseas during previous breaks from the WNBA?

A: I played overseas in Italy right after my rookie season, and that is where I got injured. Two years later, I played and China and was injured a second time.

Q: How do you envision your future in TV? What would you like to do?

A: ESPN is moving toward versatility, sort of like basketball. I anchor “SportsCenter Africa.” It teaches you skills like interviewing, reading highlights, reading from a teleprompter, directing a show and producing a show and working as an analyst for the NBA but for women’s college basketball and the WNBA and the G-League.

I’ve done a lot of different things. I’ve called maybe 40 to 45 women’s games and G-League games. I like them all. It’s a challenge. It’s like being a basketball player. You can be one at one skill, but work on others and see what opportunities come from it.

I don’t see myself in one role. I embrace many roles. But I think it would be awesome if athletes could possibly be anchors on “SportsCenter” and host more shows.

Q: What areas do you cover on the African editions of “SportsCenter?”

A: It’s sub-Saharan Africa. It’s a “SportsCenter” show for Africa. Everyone thinks Africa is just soccer or international football. There’s a huge, rising contingent of NBA fans in Africa as well. We cover all the top stories you see on the domestic “SportsCenter” but also a couple of international storylines like football, and we are heavy basketball.

Q: How do you work television into your schedule when you’re in season?

A: It’s very flexible I give notice to ESPN when I have availability after practice or on my days off. I had five days of training camp, and on my day off I worked on “SportsCenter.” We have a couple of preseason games coming up, and Wednesday is a day off and I will go to New York and be on “Get Up,” the new morning show. Being in the state of Connecticut and being an NBA analyst, I’m available most days because I’m in the state.

Q: Can you imagine being at a point where television and radio are more attractive to you than playing?

A: Right now it’s cool, and I’m happy I am able to do both. I’m not going to play until I’m 40, but I feel as though this is unique. I have an older sister who has played six years consecutively overseas. She probably has been home two weeks out of the entire year between seasons after playing in Russia or China or Poland, and it’s grueling.

For me, to have balance so that I can play basketball but also have a job that keeps me here is great financially. It’s ideal for me. Right now, I want to show my contemporaries, my peers, that you can do other things outside of basketball while you’re playing. WNBA players go to volatile countries and miss out on family events and all these events to set ourselves financially success, but I want to show others you can be creative and do both.

And it gives me credibility. ESPN has been forward and creative with me. People were asking how is she going to do both. During the end of the playoffs, we’re in training camp, so I can still be active. When we go into the season, the NBA season is over. And when our season is over, the NBA season is just starting to pick up. I can work from September until May, which is the meat of the NBA season.

Chiney Ogwumike, right, and sister Nneka at the end of WNBA game two years ago. Photo: Jessica Hill, Associated Press / AP2016


Photo: Jessica Hill, Associated Press


Chiney Ogwumike, right, and sister Nneka at the end of WNBA game two years ago.

Chiney Ogwumike, right, and sister Nneka at the end of WNBA game…

Q: Do you make it back to Texas?

A: I wish I could make it home more. I go back every time I can. I have been fighting for this opportunity to be an NBA analyst with ESPN, trying to improve myself since last December. My number one priority as I got ready for the WNBA season was rehabbing from my injury and also anything that ESPN can give me, being available and showing that I’m committed, and I make it home when I can.

I was in Los Angeles for the women’s college basketball tournament and on my way back I stopped in Texas for 32 hours. It was my birthday, so I was home for my birthday, and then I went back to Connecticut to work.

Q: Have you tried to pattern your career based on anyone?

A: Lisa Leslie has always been a mentor to me. She was the first person who I saw that was a top player and is now working in broadcasting. I thought that was admirable. Anything I do professionally, I run it by my family and close friends and by Lisa Leslie. She has been a game-changer.

From stylistic points, I love Michael Strahan. A lot of times when we talk about sports, where the the sociopolitical climate is right now, things can get heavy. Sports is a unifier. It’s uplifting. We look for positivity, and that is something Michael Strahan does so well. You see him with a smile giving information, and he has diversified. He talks about anything in life. Coming from Stanford University, I want to be able to do that and not just speak about the NBA or WNBA but about any issue that I feel passionate about.

Q: Are there other areas of broadcasting outside of sports you would like to try?

A: Right now I am trying to learn the basics and deliver and let people understand who I am and why I love the game. My passion is being 26 in this industry and having the opportunity to tell stories. I grew up with a lot of the young stars that are blossoming in the NBA, and being relatable, being able to share their stories at a deeper level is something I consider a strength. I’m a contemporary with guys who are playing the game, which is unique.

There’s a new generation of sports fans out there, and I’m fortunate to be hopefully able to provide some kind of relatable aspect to young kids to let them know we are a diverse group in this rising generation who use their voices, and it matters.

I’m an international person as well. My family is from Nigeria. Anything that I can do to advance sport internationally especially with basketball, and show the global aspect of the game and how it can elevate society matters to me as well.

Q: What is the significance of you getting your start on the Africa edition of “SportsCenter?”

A: That is one of the biggest motivators for me. That is what got me this new NBA analyst role, the fact I came in as a part-time “SportsCenter Africa” anchor. It was a unique opportunity. I didn’t seek out these roles. They just happened.

“SportsCenter Africa” is near and dear to my heart. It represents the fact that a female athlete can deliver sports news to African sports fans, primarily men, hopefully will deconstruct the stereotype they have in Africa about young girls playing sports. To me, it’s huge to be a “SportsCenter Africa” anchor so that young men and older men who watch can say we should support girls who don’t have the support they need to support their dreams.

Being on “SportsCenter Africa” meant that I was around when they needed someone to come on and talk about the NBA and everything was history from there.

Q: What do you think about the Rockets’ playoff chances?

A: When I was about 10, our parents told us, and this was when (Tracy McGrady) was playing, that if the Rockets made it out of the second round of the playoffs that they would get me a T-Mac jersey dress. I’m still waiting for my jersey dress. Now they don’t make it anymore.

Our family has always been huge Rockets fans. This has been their best teams since their championship years. The Warriors could be a tall task. A lot of people questioned James Harden, especially the way he exited the playoffs last year, but now we have Chris Paul in his ear, keeping him straight.

The Warriors are the most talented team and can turn it on, but it’s all about strategy. The Rockets have home court advantage, so this can be their year.